Soft hair.

“Ima, feel how soft my hair is.”

How many times have we said/heard our girl friends say this?

“Ima my hair is so smooth today, I used extra conditioner.”

She has thick hair and it gets knotty; I tell her to use double.

“Ima, <boy friend> is going to love it…”

Huh?

“He tells me he likes it when my hair is smooth.”

They’re just innocent six-year-olds. Everyone loves smooth hair.

“He is definitely going to want to be my friend today.”

I stop her dead in her little girl tracks. I call for her to come back. Her brother is standing next to me, wondering what is about to happen. She skips back towards me. I bend down, so we’re eye level, and I take her face close to mine.

“Listen to me: no one is your real friend because your hair is smooth or because they like your clothes or because of how you look. Your real friends love you because of the kind of friend you are. <Boy friend> loves you because you are a good friend. Otherwise, you are not real friends.”

She smiles and nods and I tell her to go have fun, and she bounds onward toward the path to her kindergarten.

Her brother looks back at me. I look at him.

“That was important,” I tell him.

I should have said, “for you too.”

GoldieBlox: building the next generation of girl engineers

UPDATE: GoldieBlox shipped March 12 2013! Very exciting!

Here’s a project that was fully funded on Kickstarter five days after the account went up. Those stories are rare, so what could possibly have been inspiring enough for that kind of support?

Debbie Sterling is an engineer out of Stanford University who, influenced by being a lone female engineer in a male-dominated profession, decided to invent a line of engineering toys targeted for girls.

And not just turning out pink Legos and purple Lincoln Logs.

She spent a year researching how girls can appropriately relate to engineering and building concepts, and found that combining reading and building was an effective approach.

And so was founded Goldie Blox: engineering toys for girls. The first toy is in production, due for shipping in April 2013, for ages 5-9.

Why do girls need Goldie? According to Debbie & co:

“Engineers are solving some of the biggest challenges our society faces. They are critical to the world economy, earn higher salaries and have greater job security. And they are 89% male. We believe engineers can’t responsibly build our world’s future without the female perspective. We are here to bring the female voice into engineering.”

I think in Israel especially, where engineering is an extremely prevalent,  popular and growing profession, we can do very well do encourage our daughters more. Sure, our society has chauvinist tendencies. But I’ve met some amazing female engineers – younger, older, secular, ultra-Orthodox, native Israelis and immigrants.

Here’s her pitch video from September – highly recommend watching. They are in production with pre-order available, with customer shipping by April 2013 (track it here).

Watching the video surprised me as it turned out to be a bit emotional for me.

As a girl student who was told repeatedly over years of education that I was not good at math, need to stick to writing and English, and I should just go for passing and moving on (and on many occasions, way overdoing those expectations), I feel really inspired that I will have more tools at my service for encouraging my daughter to go after whatever it is she wants, what she’s good at, what she has natural talent for, or what she just simply wants to know more about.

I suppose many from every generation of Western women in the last 150 years has said this about their daughters… And it looks like it just keeps getting better and better.

 

Thanks, Yona!